This weekend is all about supporting our borough’s small businesses, and it couldn’t be more important to do so after the almost two years of COVID-19 losses they’ve endured.

Although every day is a good day to support our local vendors, Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity to make a point of getting that holiday shopping in locally — especially when 67 cents of each dollar spent at a small business remains in the community.

American Express launched the national day in 2010 to encourage people to support small community businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday. The support for mom-and-pop businesses and local shops on Small Business Saturday has grown every year since, with Americans last year spending $20 billion on the day.

At BK Reader, we’re all about amplifying the people and stores doing great work in our community, so this year we’ve pulled together staff picks of great stores to support this holiday season.

 Antiques on Bushwick 

1170 Bushwick Avenue, Bushwick

The church-run thrift store is a thrifter’s paradise. Enter the church’s opening archway, go through a tangle of books and hats, and you’ll find yourself among a rambling expanse of furniture, clothing, art, technology from throughout the ages, glassware and nick-nacks. There is no space unused. A potted-plant rides a ceramic elephant, next to a bust of Caesar. There are boxes of sunglasses, boxes of shells, boxes of 8-track tapes. And all the funds raised by sales at the thrift store go towards renovation of the building so it can be used again by the congregation.

Antiques of Bushwick. Photo: Jessy Edwards for BK Reader

Burley Cafe

90 Kosciuszko St., Bed-Stuy

Caffeinating Bed-Stuy since 2014, Burley Cafe serves up all the coffee favorites and a daily selection of baked goods. The coffee shop also shares its space with Better Read Than Dead Bookstore, meaning there’s great gift buying potential on-site.

Marlon Hernandez and Family Tamales

Delivery, call 7184149275

Throughout the pandemic, Marlon Hernandez and his family kept Brooklyn neighbors well supplied with a range of delicious tamales and empanadas. Hernandez delivers across the borough on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and he takes special orders for the holidays. Each tamale is $3.50 and the menu includes meat and vegetarian options including green sauce with chicken, red cumin with chicken, mole with chicken, red sauce with pork, jalapeño with cheese, mushrooms with cheese, bell peppers with cheese spinach with cheese (all can be done without cheese), and the vegan black beans tamal.

Collective Fare

69 Belmont Ave, Brownsville

Collective Fare is the definition of a community building operation! It operates as a chef collaborative, catering, food production, consulting, and management company, which provides seasonally fresh, nutritious and delicious meals. Collective Fare operates a cafe out of Brownsville Community Culinary Center, which also operates as a co-working and event space — and oftentimes you can pick up the wares of local makers. Throughout the pandemic, Collective Fare has provided free food to vulnerable neighbors as part of its mission to make fresh, healthy food more accessible in Brownsville.

Brownsville Community Culinary Center cooked meals for low-income Brooklyn residents through the pandemic. Photo: Russell Frederick.

Natural Blend

302 Nostrand Ave., Bed-Stuy

At Natural Blend Café, one of the core values of business is enrichment of the mind, body and soul — and because of that it serves up wholesome foods that have been grown and prepared naturally. The menu includes vegan and wholesome dishes, a natural and organic juice bar, gourmet coffee and pastries baked daily on premises. Get a gift card for a health conscious friend or stop-by while you do your shopping — and there’s also great merch available!

Zanmi NYC 

1206 Nostrand Avenue, Flatbush

Zanmi in Kreyol simply means “friends” and it’s a fitting name for the Haitian-American restaurant which encourages friendship and gathering with movie nights, karaoke and live music on a weekly basis. Opened just weeks before New York’s pandemic lockdowns, the restaurant was able to stay afloat thanks to the love and support of their customers. The tagline at Zanmi is, “They said a man is known by the company he keeps. So come be our friends.”

Record City

65 Fenimore St., Flatbush

Record City is open Friday through Sunday from 12:00-8:00pm with a huge range of vintage vinyl of all types: rock, soul, reggae, jazz, rap, dance and more on LP 45 and 12s. It’s the perfect place to browse and get all nostalgic about nights gone by — and also to find the perfect gift for anyone!

Cafe Tucum

210 Patchen Avenue, Bed-Stuy

Brazilian cafe Cafe Tucum started with the simple mission to bring people together over great coffee, and to empower community conversation whilst empowering producer partners. On top of coffee, Tucum has a great range of pastries and sandwiches, and an amazing range of homemade textiles, plants and jewellery that have come direct to Brooklyn from South America.

Cafe Tucum. Photo: Miranda Levingston for BK Reader.

AALike Dry Cleaners

310 Nostrand Ave. Ste 3, Bed-Stuy

AALike Dry Cleaners staff are friendly, professional and there’s always a quick turn around for clothes! What more could you want. And here’s what they say about their business: “We do it for our customers. This is our community and we are committed to doing right by our customers.”

Lips Cafe

1412 Nostrand Avenue, Flatbush

Lips Cafe is a go-to for coffee, tea, pastries, Caribbean bites and good vibes, and it has a strong focus on community building with everything it does. The mother/son owned coffee shop, bar and event space is the perfect place for working or letting those creative energies bloom, and definitely for checking out this holiday season. As the team says, “we don’t serve coffee, we service community.”

Cafe con Libros 

724 Prospect Pl., Crown Heights

Cafe con Libros (coffee with books) is an intersectional Feminist community bookstore and coffee shop.  Through its choice of books, programming and great coffee, the bookstore creates a vibrant community space where everyone; specifically female-identified folx, feel centered, affirmed and celebrated. It has a great range of books for all readers and is a great gift buying spot!

Photo: Cafe Con Libros

Little Shop of Soil

279 Starr Street, Bushwick

Little Shop of Soil’s mission is to bring the joy of plants to everyone whether they are searching for their first plant or growing a budding collection. With a focus on houseplants and handmade ceramics, LSOS also offers a wide selection of plant care accessories and home goods including candles, wellness products, books, and more. 

Lakou Cafe

195 Utice Ave., Crown Heights

Founded by Weeksville resident Cassandre Davilmar in May 2018, Lakou has quickly become a community cafe, providing fresh coffee, tasty treats, relaxing cocktails, nourishing smoothies and most importantly fellowship. In Haitian culture, the lakou is a space where the community gathers to exchange knowledge, fellowship and nourish their souls and bodies. In a similar manner, Lakou is a space our community can gather to exchange knowledge, make a new friend and enjoy wonderful Caribbean-inspired food and drink.

Aunts et Uncles

1407 Nostrand Avenue, Flatbush

Aunts Et Uncles is one of the rare spots that opened mid-pandemic, and managed to stay open. The project is a fusion of husband and wife owner duo Mike’s art and design background, and Nicole’s background in hospitality, writing and doula training. The plant based restaurant and concept store serves artfully-plated plant-based burgers, tacos and Puerto Rican mofongo, along with selling home goods, stationary, prints, magazines and “books on our reading list.”

Mike and Nicole Nicholas opened Aunts Et Uncles in October 2020. Photo: Marcus Lloyd / @marky_marc13

FriendsNYC

56 Bogart St., Bushwick

Friends is 2200 square feet of indie department store goodness. It carries contemporary and vintage clothing, a variety of unique accessories and jewelry, as well as gift and home items. It also has a pretty stellar smoke shop for the stoner-inclined. What’s great about the market is that it supports local Brooklyn friends and vendors, like Floss GlossBrooklyn Candle Studio, and Lila Rice

Gardenia Flower Shop

2691 Atlantic Ave, East New York

Gardenia Flower Shop is a family owned and operated flower boutique that has been part of its East New York community for years. No matter the type of arrangement, the team has the beautiful fresh flowers sure to please! The team is also super friendly and professional, and does same day delivery in Brooklyn.

Photodom NYC

1717 Broadway, Bushwick

Photographer Dominick Lewis opened Photodom during the pandemic craziness, and its has proved a hit with the Bushwick and wider photography community. Photodom is one of the few Black-owned photo stores in New York, and its offering goes beyond developing and processing. The space, tucked away down a long hallway up three flights of stairs in a building on Broadway, is filled with analog equipment, photo gadgets, apparel, packaged film, vintage cameras and merchandise, including shirts, pins and tote bags that are made in house.

BKLYN Blend

194 Tompkins Ave., Bed-Stuy

Bklyn Blend is a minority and family owned business in the heart of Bed-Stuy offering a range of healthy options and promoting a healthy lifestyles within the community. The dynamic father/son team (Keishon and Ralph Warren) along with co-owners Ali Coutard, used their life savings to design and construct the cafe out of reclaimed wood and materials sourced from various parts of Brooklyn including the Coney Island board walk, old water tanks, and demolished buildings in neighboring Bedstuy. It’s a great place to chill out or get some work done!

Equipped with bar seating, Bklyn Blend now serves wine. Photo: Jackson Ibelle for BK Reader

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